WHO IS ZIAD MOUSSA?
“In the Middle East, since the Arab Spring, creativity is vanishing in the haze of corporate approaches to development”
Ziad Moussa is an independent development professional specializing in local governance and evaluation who over the past 18 years has worked across the entire Middle East and North Africa, the Mediterranean countries involved in the Euro-Med process and significant parts of the African continent.
Ziad’s track record in local governance and decentralization includes leadership roles in key regional initiatives and the Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security. His work in evaluation has included several large-scale evaluations for IFAD, ILO, the European Union and IDRC.
You can connect with Ziad here:
IN TOR 036 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- Ziad, a consultant invested in professionalizing the evaluation role; and a governance expert with wide experience, primarily on the Middle East.
- The new complexities of the traditional development issues, in the age of connectivity and climate change; nuances which most of the industry does not seem to take into account.
- Ziad’s critical assessment of what he deems as a ‘corporate approach to development’, in which large donors fund multinational organizations to work as outsiders on small scope projects, dismissing grassroots organizations and expecting large and everlasting impact.
- Ziad’s way to stay on top of the game, the tools and systems he takes in place, the value of still making an effort in his personal life and human relations.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- American University of Beirut
- EvalMENA and MENA Evaluators Network
- Evaluation for Change
- Refugee camps
- Human development
- Industrialization of international development
- Grassroots organization
- Beirut, Jordan
- Sri Lanka
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
A double hat: evaluator and governance professional. Two projects, response to Syrian crises in the second largest refugee camp in the world; and on some evaluations.
Humanitarian crises in the third millennium are more complex than ever: Energy consumption, connectivity for teens, engagement around governance.
Refugee camps are not islands, they are embedded into a larger community framework.
Some camps have stayed up for just too long, like the ones in Jordan.
Ziad works 40% on refugee camps, 60% on evaluation.
Refugee camps cater to a personal and professional need.
Evaluation must be transformation, needs to add up to better lives and economic conditions.
Ziad finished his Master’s degree. Wanted to be involved in human development, in general. Was at a Lebanon club, police stormed in. Left the station at 6am. Back with his academic tutor he informs him about a project working with Bedouins, total immersion. Ziad enjoyed it very much.
Worked at the American University of Beirut.
In 2001: “I’m gonna take a big jump.” Got married. She gave him financial security so he jumped into consulting.
Down to business development
Most of the interesting projects require experience. At the beginning it was about accepting whatever came along the way.
3 or 4 years of small projects. Lots of volatility, but momentum gets built up.
’01 Post euphoria, he did not get any gigs. Existential questions, but also perseverance.
’13-14 Keeping business ethics, burnout.
Development of professional markets
Competition has increased. “Professionals are learning to write CVs.” There are a lot of opportunities and diversification.
In the region, there is a wave of industrialization and democracy, funds are coming in.
Corporate approach to developments involves bringing a lot of money for an outsider with no Arabic to execute. “They play the game, and do whatever is in fad,” at the expense of grassroots capacity building.
In contrast, Ziad’s governance evaluation project with MENA started from an ‘indigenous’ perspective. “We were trying to ‘arabize‘ outcomes.“
“Evaluation for Change” in Arabic. Ziad had to explain police officers that the words meant change, and that it was a good thing. But they were not released after changing ‘Change’ for ‘Improvement’
Understanding complexities is easier for he who lives it, not for serial international development organizations
Ziad has worked outside the Middle East, but in limited capacities and a feeling of being ‘pigeonholed’, which sometimes was fine
On evaluations by an evaluator
“Plenty of frustrations. You are never expected to say “this project has failed miserably.” Sometimes too much diplomacy is expected.
Ziad tries to bring a complex view, make people understand just a couple of million dollars in a few years most likely won’t produce lasting change. He tries to highlight the true nature of the transformational processes.
The first order of change after an evaluation should be management.
Day of Ziad
Recently quit smoking.
25% of his day involves emails.
Very invested in the professionalization of the Evaluator.
Strives to have family time throughout the week.
“The difficult part is to be on an unstable continuum, in which you cannot start something only after finishing what’s already started.“
After his Bedouin stint, got married at a 5 star hotel. He invited the leaders of the herd, they came with sheep. They were the sensation of the party.
“Keep your integrity and stick to your standards of excellence.” Nevermind the cliché.
“We’re mercenaries. We give our time to the highest bidder and move from a project to the next. Integrity can slip through the cracks.“
Many development professionals, few top quality development professionals.” If your quality drops, there will be someone who will take your place.“
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